The Zune Marketplace is the online community where users can download or purchase new Zune content. It is a vibrant place that is built right into the software that comes with your Zune. Blending seamlessly into your Zune, the Marketplace is right at your fingertips, whether playing music, managing content, syncing your Zune, etc. It is smartly designed, easy to use, and looks effortlessly elegant. It took Microsoft a while to get it right, but the Marketplace is now a joy to use. Not a bad thing when you want people to buy your content, right? So let’s talk about the different types of content you can get from Marketplace.
The most popular place to start would be music. In this regard the Zune marketplace the start page shows at a glance a wide range of content: featured artists, the top artists and music videos of the week, and new releases. Or if you have a specific genre in mind, you can browse songs as well. [See image 1]
After finding a song, you can listen to a 30-second preview. On the same page, you have access to information on the artist, other songs from the same album, watch music videos, or listen to similar songs.
When it comes to making a purchase, you have several choices, which we will discuss later. For information however, you can choose to buy just that song, or purchase the whole album with a slight price markdown.
TV shows are a new feature added to the Marketplace, and have been welcomed by fans. There’s a large collection that includes The Office, South Park, and Battlestar Galactica. Here, you can browse by genre or network. [See image 2]
When you’ve decided on your required content and have purchased it, the video download starts. Speeds are pretty good, and video quality is good. You can watch the episodes in Windows or on your Zune, and in both cases I haven’t noticed artifacting or tears in the video.
The community has clamored for movie downloads from Marketplace, but so far Microsoft has announced no plans to add movies for purchase or rental.
Podcasts are a completely different animal compared to the other content. They’re free for all users. And there’s such a fantastic selection of both audio and visual podcasts that there’s no reason for you to not regularly use this side of the Marketplace. There’s news from CNN, comedy routines, language learning courses, as well as some great niche content. In fact I’m sure everyone could find a few podcasts that would tickle their fancy! [See image 3]
Podcasts work through suscription. By clicking the “subscribe” button, the Zune software will automatically download the latest episodic podcast content and put it on the Zune. After you listen to a podcast once, it’ll be marked as “old”. All of this ensures that you have the latest podcast content available to you.
Points and the Zune Pass
There are two options available: one is the purchase of Microsoft Points, which can then be used for purchases. The other is a monthly subscription called the Zune Pass.
The Zune Pass is obviously the simpler of the two. All of the Zune Marketplace’s content is available for listening and download, at $15 a month. I recommend this option to people who love music and are always sampling and exploring new artists to listen to.
For those of you who aren’t as fanatical about music and just want a small collection to listen to over and over, Points are a more ideal choice. To add points to your account, you must buy at least $5 worth, which will give you 400 points. Pricing for different kinds of content are as follows:
- 79 points for a DRM-protected song, which translates to $0.99 a song.
- Some songs are available DRM-free, at no additional cost.
- 160 points for a TV episode, or $1.99 an episode.
The Zune Marketplace is attractive, easy to navigate, and has a wealth of content. Hopefully movie downloads or rentals will be added soon, as that’s really the only thing missing right now.
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